London Theatre Review: Disney’s ALADDIN
It’s likely that you know the Disney animation of Aladdin. If you have little ones, you’re a fan of Robin Williams, or even if you’re just into Disney, you may have seen it a number of times. So you might think you know what to expect when going along to the new West End stage version of that very movie. If that’s the case, you’ll have to think again.
Expectations are shaken up, trampled by camels and then taken on a magic carpet ride of wonder before being handed back to you by a raucous cast of roaring songs and stunning scenery, changed very much for the better. This version of Aladdin is a whole new world of delights and adventure that will cause you to alternate between cheering wildly for the good guys, jeering at the bad guys, and shedding the tiniest tear of happiness for the lovers too. Oh, and you’ll laugh. You will definitely laugh.
Aladdin is packed full of jokes for all ages, giving everyone the change to really get into the story. It’s that genial Genie that does it when it comes to the comedy element (although everyone has a funny line or two). Played by Trevor Dion Nicholas, this larger-than-life character moves and grooves around the stage surprisingly nimbly, making his performance even more magical. And Dean John-Wilson’s Aladdin is as tough and yet as innocent as he has to be to make him seem real. Jade Ewan plays Princess Jasmine with a joyous kind of knowing; she is the princess, after all, and who wouldn’t want to be a Disney princess? The good news is, there are no 2D characters in this production.
That includes the fabled magic carpet. Just as much a character as Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie and Jafar, the carpet floats majestically above the audience, and, try as hard as you might, you won’t see any strings. How it’s all done is a mystery – or it’s actually magic. When it comes to a sumptuous production like this, it’s hard to tell the difference.
There is something of the pantomime about Aladdin. That’s no bad thing; we love a good panto in the UK, and being able to enjoy one all year long is a treat. It’s because the distinction between good and bad is so absolutely clear. We have heroes and we have villains, and that’s that. We also have a well-known story with impressively choreographed dance routines and belting ballads or tongue-twisting up-tempo numbers that get everyone clapping along.
The sets are breathtakingly spectacular – from the streets of Agrabah to Aladdin’s cave, it all looks as though you could step right in and live it. With 350 different and increasingly lavish costumes along with special effects that would make Hollywood blush, Aladdin is exactly what you wished for.